Today’s Sportstat: March 4, 2019

Can Christian Yelich repeat his 2018 season?

One of the most frequent questions you will hear throughout Miller Park during the early months of the 2019 MLB season is… Can Christian Yelich have another big season?

Yelich won the National League MVP last season with a .326 average, 36 home runs and 110 RBI. While reaching these numbers again this season might be asking for much, it does beg the question… Can Yelich, statistically speaking, match his 2018 output?

To answer that question, let’s take a journey over the past five seasons and see how the last five MVPs in each league did the year following their MVP season.

For the record, here are the MVPs for each league from 2013-17:

American League: Miguel Cabrera (2013), Mike Trout (2014), Josh Donaldson (2015), Mike Trout (2016) and Jose Altuve (2017).

National League: Andrew McCutchen (2013), Clayton Kershaw (2014), Bryce harper (2015), Kris Bryant (2016), Giancarlo Stanton (2017).

As you can see, nine of the 10 MVPs prior to 2018 were everyday players (the only exception was Kershaw in 2014). To get a take on what has happened to previous MVPs and how it might answer the question about whether or not Yelich will match his 2018 MVP season, let’s see how the previous nine everyday MVPs did statistically when it comes to comparing the batting average, HR and RBI numbers from the MVP season to the following year.

Here’s what we find… of the nine non-pitcher MVPs from 2013-17:

  • Only three of the nine increased their season HR totals the year after the MVP season;
  • All nine saw their RBI totals the season after their MVP campaign decrease the following season;
  • Only two of the nine increased their season batting average the year after the MVP year.

Here’s another stat using these year-after-the-MVP numbers… of the nine non-pitchers MVPs from 2013-17:

  • Their season home run totals dropped by an average of 7.8 home runs from their MVP season to the following year;
  • Their season RBI totals dropped by an average of 21.8 RBI from their MVP season to the following year;
  • Their season batting average dropped by an average of 19.7 points from their MVP season to the following year.

If we apply the above numbers to Yelich’s totals from 2018 to project what he might do statistically (batting average, HRs and RBIs) in 2019, we would project Yelich to end 2019, the year after his MVP, with a .306 average with 28 home runs and 88 RBI. Again, this would be based on what we’ve seen from the past five MVPs in each year and what they did the year after their MVP campaign.

Those projected 2019 numbers would not be all that bad for Yelich, but certainly not where he ended the year in 2018. A World Series appearance for the Brewers in 2019 would certainly carry more weight than Yelich reaching his 2018 stats in 2019.

One more quick note: Looking at Clayton Kershaw’s MVP numbers the year after his MVP season, we see that in 2014 (the year Kershaw won the N.L. MVP) he had a 21-3 record with a 1.77 ERA and a WHIP of 0.857. Using those stats as a comparison, Kershaw dropped in each category the year after his MVP; in 2015 Kershaw had a 16-7 record, a 2.13 ERA, and a 0.881 WHIP. Very respectable numbers, but, again, he did not reach the numbers he had in his MVP season.

Will Yelich have a “successful” 2019 season? It all depends on how you want to define successful. History, however, may be telling us that Yelich may not reach the major stats he had in 2018. Are the Brew Crew faithful okay with that?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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Today’s Sportstat: March 2, 2019

Who’s on first… for the Brewers on Opening Day?

If you are a diehard Brewers fan, you may find it hard to believe the following stat.

Did you know…

… from 2011-18, eight straight seasons, the Brewers have had a different starting first baseman on Opening Day. Yes, the Brew Crew’s Opening Day lineup has featured a different starter at first base for the last eight consecutive seasons.

Go back to 2011; Prince Fielder was the starting first baseman that season, the sixth straight year he was the Opening Day starting first baseman for the Brewers. After that, however, the Opening Day starting first basemen has looked like this…

2012: Mat Gamel

2013: Alex Gonzalez

2014: Lyle Overbay

2015: Adam Lind

2016: Chris Carter

2017: Eric Thames

2018: Ryan Braun

Conventional wisdom is that Jesus Aguilar, last year’s regular at first base for the Crew, will hold that spot on Opening Day in 2019… that is baring any injury that would prevent him from that honor.

So… if Aguilar mans the first base spot on Opening Day in late March this season, we could see yet another different first baseman on Opening Day for the Brewers, the ninth straight year that has happened.

Prior to this season, that longest stretch where the Brewers had a different Opening Day starting first baseman was 1998-2001. John Jaha was the Opening Day starter at first in 1998; the following year it was Sean Berry, followed by Kevin Barker in 2000 and Richie Sexson in 2001.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: February 28, 2019

Bucks and Budenholzer have a 60-win season in their sights

With a league-best 47-14 record and 21 games left to play in the regular season, the Milwaukee Bucks have a legitimate chance to win 60 games in a season for only the fifth time in franchise history. The Bucks won 60 or more in 1970-71 (66 wins), 1971-72 (63 wins), 1972-73 (60 wins) and in 1980-81 (60 wins). To reach the 60-win milestone this season, the Bucks would have to win at least 13 of their remaining 21 games.

Getting 60 wins this season would also be a big deal for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. Back in 2014-15, Coach Bud won 60 games in his second season at the helm of the Atlanta Hawks. A 60-win season with the Bucks would make Budenholzer only the seventh coach in NBA history to win 60 or more games in a season with two or more different franchises.

Hall of Famer coach Pat Riley holds the league record with 60-win seasons with three different franchises. He won 60 with the Lakers, Miami and the Knicks.

Here is a look at the six coaches who have won 60 or more games in a season with two or more franchises.

K.C. Jones: Boston (1984, 1985, 1986)… Washington (1975)

Phil Jackson: Chicago (1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998)… L.A. Lakers (2000, 2009)

Don Nelson: Dallas (2003)… Milwaukee (1981)

Mike D’Antoni: Houston (2018), Phoenix (2005, 2007)

Pat Riley: (L.A. Lakers (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990)… Miami (1997)… N.Y. Knicks (1993)

Rick Adelman: Portland (1991)… Sacramento (2002)

A total of 32 NBA coaches have won 60 or more games in a season with at least one team. If Budenholzer can add a second 60-win season with the Bucks to his resume, it would make him the 21st coach in NBA history to have multiple 60-win seasons in a career.

The 20 NBA coaches who have won 60 or more games in two or more seasons are: Rick Adelman, Red Auerbach, Mike Brown, Larry Costello, Billy Cunningham, Mike D’Antoni, Bill Fitch, Alex Hannum, Tom Heinsohn, Phil Jackson, Avery Johnson, K.C. Jones, George Karl, Steve Kerr, Don Nelson, Greg Popovich, Pat Riley, Doc Rivers, Bill Sharman, Jerry Sloan.

For the record, there have four head coaches who have won 60 or more games in four different seasons; Phil Jackson and Pat Riley did it seven times, Greg Popovich has done is six times, and K.C. Jones did it four times.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: February 25, 2019

TODAY’s SPORTSTAT-February 25, 2019

Who has been the Packers worst QB in the Super Bowl era?

There is no argument when it comes to who are the best quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers franchise… there are two Hall of Famers, Bart Starr and Brett Favre, and a future HOFer in Aaron Rodgers. The only discussion might be who would take the fourth spot in a Packers QB Mt. Rushmore, but even that might be a brief discussion as Lynn Dickey would be a solid choice for the fourth spot.

But what about the worst QB for the Packers? Is there a clear-cut selection?

To answer that question, I looked at five stats. First, I limited the discussion to only quarterbacks who played for the Packers in the Super Bowl era (1966 and beyond). There have been 18 players who attempted 100 or more career passes with the Packers since 1966. (In case you wanted to see if you could name all 18, here they are: Zeke Bratkowski, Lynn Dickey, Anthony Dilweg, Brett Favre, Matt Flynn, John Hadl, Scott Hunter, Don Horn, Brett Hundley, Blair Kiel, Don Majkowski, Aaron Rodgers, Bart Starr, Jerry Tagge, Mike Tomczak, David Whitehurst, Randy Wright, and Jim Zorn.)

The five stats I used were pass completion percentage, TD percentage, interceptions percentage, Passer Rating and win-loss percentage as a starter.

Following are the five Packers QBs since 1966 that had the lowest rankings in these five stat categories:

Lowest pass completion percentage
Hunter, 43.95%… Zorn, 45.53%… Tagge, 48.4%… Horn, 48.94… Whitehurst, 51.43%

Highest interception percentage
Horn, 7.75%… Hunter, 6.73%… Bratkowski, 6.54%… Tagge, 6.05%… Hadl, 5.40%

Lowest TD percentage
Tagge, 1.1%… Hadl, 1.7%… Wright, 2.8%… Hundley, 2.8%… Whitehurst, 2.9%

Passer Rating
Tagge, 44.2… Hunter, 49.0… Hadl, 53.2… Zorn, 57.4… Whitehurst, 59.2

Win-loss percentage (minimum of 10 games started at QB for the Pack to qualify)
Wright, 7-25 (.219)… Hadl, 7-12 (.368)… Dickey, 43-56-2 (.436)… Whitehurst, 16-20-1 (.446)… Majkowski, 22-26-1 (.459)

Okay… if we take these five stats and assign a numerical value to each, I come up with my list of the five QBs who would statistically rank as the Top Five worst Packers QBs in the Super Bowl era. They are:

  1. Jerry Tagge: (1972-74). Started 12 games for the Packers. The 11th overall pick in the 1972 draft. Played only three seasons in Green Bay with only three TD passes and 17 interceptions. Was released prior to the ’75 season. Did not play in the NFL after that.
  2. Scott Hunter: (1971-73). Selected in the sixth round of the 1971 draft. Started 29 games for the Pack, 10 in his rookie season. Led the team to a 10-4 record in ’72 and a NFC Central crown. Was traded to the Buffalo Bills inn 1974.
  3. John Hadl: Traded to the Packers and played two seasons (1974-75) with the Pack. His trade to the Pack for five draft choices has been called one of the worst trades of a QB in NFL history. Hadl, who earlier had a great career for the San Diego Chargers, was a flop with the Packers throwing only nine TD passes with 29 interceptions in 22 games with Green Bay.
  4. Randy Wright: Wright played collegiately at Wisconsin and was a sixth round pick of the Packers in 1984. He played five seasons in Green Bay, starting 32 games. He was only 7-25 as a starter with the team.
  5. Don Horn: Another first round pick of the Packers in 1967. Played four seasons in Green Bay, although he only played in 20 games, starting six of them. Was traded to Denver in 1971. Did win four of the six games he started for the Pack.

So what do you think? Who is your choice?

Comments?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: February 21, 2019

Can the Brewers finally post back-to-back playoff seasons?

The beginning of 2019 Major League Baseball’s spring training is a time for most of the 30 MLB teams to start the chatter of a potential championship this season. Yes, title hopes run rampant in February.

Just making the playoffs is a key first step to any professional team’s championship run. It’s interesting to note that baseball probably has the most difficult path for teams to take towards a title, especially if you go by the numbers: Of the four professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL), baseball has the fewest teams that make the playoffs after their regular season with 10 (and that’s after adding two additional teams to the post-season format just a few short years ago). The NFL is next with 12 of their 32 teams qualifying for the playoffs, and the NBA and NHL each have 16 of their teams advance to the playoffs.

The Brewers took that all-important first step last year when they made the playoffs and finished one game short of reaching the World Series. The question this year is: Can they repeat the 2018 season and make a return appearance in the ’19 post-season? Considering that the Brewers have not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons since 1981-82, Brew Crew faithful have their fingers crossed that their team can do something this season that hasn’t happened in almost 40 years… back-to-back playoff seasons.

Last season seven of the 10 MLB teams that played in the post-season also played in the 2017 playoffs: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston, L.A. Dodgers and the N.Y. Yankees. The Brewers, Oakland and Atlanta were the three teams that made the playoffs in 2018 after not making the post-season the previous campaign.

Of the 30 current MLB franchises, 26 have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons at least once this century. Two franchises, the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox, have never made the MLB post-season in back-to-back seasons in their histories. Two other teams, the Brewers and the Baltimore Orioles, have previously appeared in the post-season in back-to-back seasons, but not this century (the White Sox failure to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons is quite amazing considering they have been around as a franchise since 1901!). The Brewers, as mentioned above, last made the post-season in back-to-back years in 1981 and 1982, while the Orioles last made the post-season in consecutive years in 1996 and 1997.

Here’s a look at the last time each of the 30 MLB teams made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Never: Chicago White Sox
Never: Miami Marlins
1981-82: Milwaukee
1996-97: Baltimore
2000-01: Seattle
2001-02: Arizona
2002-03: San Francisco
2005-06: San Diego
2008-09: L.A. Angels
2009-10: Minnesota
2010-11: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay
2012-13: Atlanta, Cincinnati
2013-14: Detroit, Oakland
2014-15: Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
2015-16: N.Y. Mets, Texas, Toronto
2016-17: Washington
2017-18: Boston, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Colorado, Houston, L.A. Dodgers, N.Y. Yankees

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp